Iraq

Jordan: NGO's reaffirm commitment to Iraq

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AMMAN, 13 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - NGOs working in Iraq have agreed on the need for stronger advocacy and the need to create safe space for humanitarian work, following a conference held in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

"We (NGOs) aim to provide independent and universal humanitarian and development assistance solely based on Iraqi people's needs, rights and interests," Kasra Mofarah, executive coordinator of the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI) said.

The conference and two-day workshop, which ended on Thursday, was convened to look at how successful NGO work in Iraq has been over the past two years given the poor security situation in the country.

"We are now working on a plan to regain humanitarian space," he added.

Some 70 NGOs and 44 representatives from UN agencies and donors took part in the event.

Aid workers have been facing increasing threats in the country and reconstruction work has been severely hampered by bombings, shootings, kidnappings and constant threats. Many aid agencies have pulled out of the country and are providing what assistance they can from neighbouring countries, including Jordan.

Since September 2004, 15 NGO employees have been killed and 20 wounded by insurgents. A large number have also been detained by US-led coalition forces and by Iraqi authorities.

According to Mofarah, the lack of humanitarian aid and reconstruction at a time when the country needs it most, has had a huge impact on ordinary Iraqis.

"There is less electricity, less food, poor health facilities, insecurity and less access to basic needs," said Mofarah.

Participants voiced their commitment and confidence in the ability of NCCI to produce a work-plan to protect aid workers within two months, he added.

The work-plan will include proposals to regain unrestricted access to affected communities without being targeted by either side in the conflict.

"We are independent, neutral and impartial aid workers, without any link to the political agenda and the line between the military and aid workers is blurred now," Mofarah stressed.

[ENDS]

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